Microsoft Corp.'s forthcoming Windows Server 2008 provides a two-for-one bonus: virtualization software with the operating system itself and potentially closer integration with some Linux operating systems than it has ever offered before, according to an early, initial look at the server's Release Candidate 1 (RC1).
New technology allows for closer interoperability between Windows and Linux than we've seen in the past, and also puts it at loggerheads with technology offered by VMware, whose virtualization technology has been taking the industry by storm.
The early release of Windows Server 2008's Hyper-V Beta [ or read here ] signals that Microsoft is well ahead of schedule in a key area of development. But that's no big surprise: Hyper-V technology started with the Xen source code, so the company had a big head start.
Microsoft partially funded the Xen project, which suggests why the beta release supports Linux interoperability. The Redmond, Wash., industry giant plans to support some enterprise Linux distros in the long term—the first one being SUSE Enterprise 10 with SP1. Fedora Core 8 now works with Hyper-V.
To expand its integration capabilities with other Linux distros, the Windows Server 2008 group is opening up a testing program through Microsoft Connect's site. (Solution providers have to apply to get into the testing program.)
Xen shares a communication layer with Hyper-V. Hyper-V provides components for a synthetic network adapter, synthetic storage controller and Xen's Hypercall adapter. When running a Linux virtual machine, Xen calls are translated into Hyper-V hypercalls. Though the Xen hypervisor runs in Ring 0, it still has to communicate with Hyper-V.
The Hyper-V layer will execute instructions at the lowest service provided by Windows Server 2008. The Hyper-V layer requires a root-level partition to run, so the Windows Server 2008 kernel is treated almost equally with other Windows and non-Windows kernels. "Almost equal" means that Windows Server 2008 will be the constant in the new architecture.
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